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Supplies arrive just in time at Riverview couple's Haiti clinic

In a makeshift clinic set up in an orphanage built by a Riverview couple east of Port-au-Prince, Jeanne-Marie Bettina, 24, is tended to by nurses. She has no feelings in her legs and fears she’s paralyzed after being trapped in her home for 13 hours.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

In a makeshift clinic set up in an orphanage built by a Riverview couple east of Port-au-Prince, Jeanne-Marie Bettina, 24, is tended to by nurses. She has no feelings in her legs and fears she’s paralyzed after being trapped in her home for 13 hours.

FOND PARISIEN, Haiti

Sherry Burnette from Riverview is trying not to feel overwhelmed. But the flood of injured pouring into her makeshift clinic in Fond Parisien is daunting.

Since Tuesday's earthquake, 200 severely hurt people have arrived in truck beds at Love a Child orphanage, which she and husband, Bobby, built seven years ago in this town 30 miles east of Port-au-Prince.

The day after the earthquake, which leveled much of the capital, they converted the orphanage school into a clinic that holds about 15 people. That day, the victims began to arrive.

"We're trying to keep going, to keep helping," she said Sunday, "but the numbers of injured keep growing and growing, and we're worried."

By the door of the school-turned-clinic lies Rose Loranie, a Petionville pharmacist, who lay under layers of cinder blocks in her home for three days before anyone could dig her out. Her legs are too injured to walk.

"It was very dark and I had no hope left," she said, "but I was found and here I am." Sunday was her birthday.

"I am 52 today and it is the happiest day of my life," she whispered.

Across the room is Luckner Sinse, 26, a cosmetic salesman from the capital. He ran for the door of his home in the Recoup district, he said, but was hit by falling cinder blocks in the entryway. He suffered a concussion and his left leg was crushed.

"I don't think about the future," he said.

He is surrounded by moaning people, lying in street clothes on cots. One by one over the next week, they will be moved out to hospitals in the Dominican Republic as more and more people come in.

Sunday afternoon, a welcome visitor arrived at the clinic: Mike Wnek from Auburndale showed up with morphine, sutures and IVs purchased by the First United Methodist Church of Auburndale.

Burnette hugged him with tears in her eyes and thanked him for the supplies.

"I'm trying to get around and help as many people as I can," said Wnek, who develops homes in Plant City. He had come on his own to Haiti.

The most severely injured person in the clinic is Jeanne-Marie Bettina, 24, who is paralyzed from the waist down. She lay for 13 hours before her husband could dig her out from under layers of broken concrete in their home in the capital.

Helpers sponge her arms and stroke her head. But no one can say how badly she is injured because the temporary clinic has no X-ray machine. She is not pregnant, but her belly is swollen as if she is, a sign of potentially serious internal injuries.

Like others at the clinic, Bettina is on a list to be trucked over the border to Jimani in the Dominican Republic. John Elliott, a former Army medic from Atlanta, will drive the truck to Jimani where the patients will be treated at a local hospital or ferried by helicopter to the capital, Santo Domingo.

"In the hospital, people have to wait three days to see a doctor, " said Elliott. "We need more doctors."

Lying across the back seat of the truck is Paul Wendy, 8, who has head injuries and a broken arm and leg.

His mother, Jeanne Namise, will ride in the bed of the truck with an injured man and woman.

"Please let my son get well," she said.

As the truck pulled toward the gate of the orphanage, Burnette watched it head east toward the border.

"Tomorrow, more injured will arrive and the next day more," she said. "I don't know how we're going to handle it."

Supplies arrive just in time at Riverview couple's Haiti clinic 01/17/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 22, 2010 6:42pm]
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